Romanian is a Romance language spoken in Romania, Moldova, and Ukraine. It has over 24 million native speakers and around 4 million learners all around the world. It retains some of the features of Latin, such as grammatical cases, which are more typical of Slavic languages. The language itself is known to have first appeared in writing in the sixteenth century, when it was used mainly for religious texts and some documents.
The Romanian Writing System:
The oldest texts are written in the Cyrillic alphabet, but from the late sixteenth century, a version of the Latin alphabet was being used in Transylvania and in the eighteenth century, a spelling system from Italian was adopted. The Cyrillic alphabet was used in the Republic of Moldova until 1989, after which it was replaced with the Romanian version of the Latin alphabet. This means that we can distinguish three different alphabets: the Old Romanian Alphabet, which was used during the transition from the Cyrillic to Latin and can be still seen in churches; the Cyrillic Alphabet, used from the sixteenth century till 1860; and the Modern Romanian Alphabet, which is a version of the Latin alphabet with some special letters.
There are only seven vowels with an additional two that are usually used in the loan words. In addition to that, there are two diphthongs (sounds which are a combination of two vowels) and twenty-two consonants.
Romanian nouns are described by gender (feminine, masculine, and neuter) and can be declined by case and number. Accordingly, the articles, adjectives, and pronouns will usually have to agree in gender, case, and number with the noun they refer to. Sentences usually follow a SVO (Subject-Verb-Object) pattern. As in many other Romance languages, verbs in Romanian change their form to match the person, number, and intended tense mood or voice.
Located in southeastern Europe, Romania shares borders with Serbia, Hungary, and Moldova. Its capital, Bucharest, is the sixth largest city in the EU, while having almost 20 million citizens makes Romania the seventh most populated country among the 28 states of the European Union. The official language of Romania is Romanian and the currency is the Leu, with a current exchange rate of 4 Leu per 1 USD as of October 2015.
The ancient inhabitants of the territory of Romania were Dacians. Between the third and seventh centuries, a few waves of migration entered the country. In the fourteenth century, the first Romanian principality was formed and led the country through countless wars and invasions up until 1989, when Romanians freed themselves from communism. In 1990, the first free, multi-party election since WWII was held.
Romania is usually characterized as a upper-middle income country which experienced relative economic growth in the 2000s after an unstable period in the 90s. There has also been a shift from agriculture towards heavy industry. Like in many countries, tourism is also a significant part of the Romanian economy, which seems only natural given that the most famous vampire in the world comes from Transylvania! Although the author of “Dracula”, Bram Stoker, was from Ireland, it is his novel that made the country so magical and appealing to fans of the supernatural and vampires around the world.
One of the most striking things about Romanian culture is its strong folklore traditions, which have survived through to today in the rural areas. These include costume embroidery, ceramics, wood carving, traditional dance, household decorations, and a variety of folk music.
The most popular sport in Romania is football, followed by handball, basketball, and rugby. As for individual sports, the country is very well known for its gymnasts, with Nadia Elena Comăneci being the first gymnast ever to score a perfect 10 at the Olympics Games in 1976. Other popular sports are tennis, oină (a traditional Romanian sport similar to baseball), boxing, and fencing.
Romanian music can be characterized as multicultural, with an interesting ethnic scene. Folk music is the oldest Romanian creation and is characterized by its vitality and uniqueness. One of the most popular musicians is Gheorghe Zamfir, whose specialty is the pan flute. Another more contemporary (but also famous) artist is Inna.
Romanians love meat, and pork is widely used in Romanian cuisine. One of the most common meals is mămăligă, which is a type of polenta, made out of water, salt, and corn flour. Other traditional dishes include lamb, borsch, sarmale (rolled minced meat) with rice and herbs, or pork prepared in various ways, especially at Christmas.